Sara Sanders Gardner's work in the autism field began 17 years ago, and includes creating and directing a nationally recognized autism college access program at Bellevue College in Washington State, and creating and delivering Autism at Work training workshops for Microsoft's Autism Inclusive Hiring program at their Redmond, WA and Sunnyvale, CA locations since 2015. Connect on LinkedIn
As an autistic individual navigating a career for 30 years, Sara has the lived experience to understand and communicate the subject matter. As an autistic autism professional who has worked in the field for 17 years, Sara has experience learning about and working with thousands of unique autistic individuals and their families.
Autism at Work content includes a social justice perspective that encompasses autistic communication in context, barriers faced by autistic individuals, and a conversation about Autism as a Culture. Viewed through a social justice lens, we examine accommodations, impacts of disability, and autistic and non-autistic communication styles. Attendees frequently leave with a better understanding of interactions with all colleagues, including but not limited to neurodivergent colleagues.
Q1) How can you do this in one hour? Most trainers are quoting at least a half-day!
A1) Experience proves that effective training doesn't have to be complicated or long. Recent research shows that the real barrier is in the difficulty that non-autistic people and autistic people experience in understanding each other. This workshop breaks down those barriers.
Q2) Why do you use the word "autistic"? Isn't "person with autism" better?
A2) As an autistic individual myself, I use identity first language almost exclusively. Others may decide that person-first language is more comfortable for them, however, the disabled person should be the one to ultimately decide how they wish to be defined.
Q3) Does the autistic co-worker attend the workshop?
A3) It depends. If it's a new hire, sometimes the workshop is held prior to their starting date. However, many autistic employees have attended these workshops with overwhelmingly positive responses to the material. If they do attend, they can add to the conversation. It should be up to them, of course.
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